Fullerina Chair by Franco Poli

Though I arrived somewhat late to Design Miami, I was lucky enough to be able to sit in on the last of the three somewhat informal afternoon “design talks.” I was pleased to discover that the featured speaker was Gaetano Pesce—a man whose heavy Italian accent doesn’t preclude a certain eccentric artistry with the English language, nor does it preclude an auspicious alliance with Miami collector Al Eiber. Eiber—a genial sort with a modest manner—nevertheless made the unabashed claim that all great design comes from Italy. While in some circles this may pass for gospel truth, I felt compelled today to put the notion to the test.

Fullerina Chair. Designed by Franco Poli.

Forthwith, pulled straight from the virtual hatbox of the Internet, I decided to have a look at the work of Italian designer Franco Poli, a frequent collaborator with Milan manufacturer Matteograssi. Though both Poli and Matteograssi are largely known for their work with coach hide furniture, the attribute that catches my fancy about the Fullerina Chair isn’t its hide-covered seat, but its exquisitely clean joinery. This ineffable piece of inaudible artistry (so slight that when it slides across the floor, it doesn’t make a sound) was achieved by Poli’s unorthodox combination of plywood legs and an ash frame. The chair relishes negative space—the backrest is outlined in the thinnest of profiles that creates a perfect picture window of air (very like the Lolita Chair). The piece draws our attention to absence in more ways than one: like the recent Chair Lajt, not only does Fullerina imply a minimalist materiality, it proves the very same—at a recent talk, the chair was passed hand to hand among a seated audience to demonstrate its lightness.


Fullerina is available with hide seat covers in any of Matteograssi’s hundred+ colors, as well as in four- or three-legged versions, in this regard making it a disciple of Walter Papst’s seminal take on the tripod. But all such comparisons must end there, for Poli and Matteograsi are innovators of a singular stripe, providing more ammunition for Eiber’s unabashed claim. Just don’t tell the Dutch.

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